Huawei presented the Mate 30 Pro in September, but has only recently sold the smartphone in the Netherlands. Because Huawei is burdened by a US trade ban, the Chinese manufacturer is not allowed to do business with Google and the Mate 30 Pro comes without Google certification. In this Huawei Mate 30 Pro review, we explain what you notice and why you can better ignore the phone.
Huawei Mate 30 Pro
List price € 999, –
Colors Black and purple / silver
OS Android 10
Screen 6.5 inch OLED (2400 x 1176)
Processor 2.86 GHz octacore (Huawei Kirin 990)
Storage 256GB (expandable)
Battery 4,500 mAh
Camera 40, 40 + 8 megapixel + depth sensor (rear), 32 megapixel (front)
Connectivity 4G (LTE), Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi, GPS,
Format 15.8 x 7.3 x 0.88 cm
Weight 198 grams
Other Waterproof and dustproof, 3D face protection, wireless charging
Website www.huawei.com/en 4 Score 40
- Excellent hardware
- No Google certification
- Most apps cannot be used officially
- AppGallery is a mess
- Uncertain update policy
- Design of the smartphone
In September I traveled to Munich for Techzle, where Huawei announced the Mate 30 Pro at a major event. Everyone knew then that the smartphone was not certified by Google, but otherwise there were mainly questions. Would the trade ban still apply if the Mate 30 Pro reached the stores, how many and which apps are in Huawei’s AppGallery store and how would the manufacturer promote its latest premium smartphone to the general public? I made a first impression in Munich and came to the conclusion that the Mate 30 Pro was absolutely not recommended because of its faulty software.
Mate 30 Pro on sale now: this is striking
Almost half a year after the controversial presentation (the word “Google” only came to the end) three things stand out. The trade ban still applies, which means Huawei still can’t get Google to certify the Mate 30 Pro. The software has not changed in this area. Then Huawei’s AppGallery, its own app store as an alternative to the Play Store. When the Mate 30 Pro was announced, the number of popular apps in the AppGallery could be counted on one hand. That would change, according to the manufacturer. We haven’t heard anything about this in recent months. How is the app store doing?
Finally, Huawei’s sales strategy for the Mate 30 Pro is very different from previous top smartphones. Where the Mate 20 and P30 series quickly and widely became available across Europe, the Mate 30 Pro has been released slowly and on a small scale in a limited number of European countries. Huawei sells the smartphone here after a long wait without significant marketing and only in one store. It is not much different in Belgium. It seems like Huawei does not want to sell the Mate 30 Pro.
But we as Techzle are of course very curious about how a (Huawei) smartphone without Google certification suits you, and fortunately Huawei wanted to lend a Mate 30 Pro. In the past few weeks I could feel it extensively.
Install Huawei Mate 30 Pro
To start at the beginning: setting up the Mate 30 Pro is already different, because logging in with your Google account is not included. Simply copying your contacts, text messages, recent calls, apps and passwords is therefore not possible. Huawei offers alternative options via “move data from another device” and “restore from Huawei Cloud backup”. The former works fine from Android, but cannot match Google’s solution. The Huawei Cloud backup function is intended for those who already use a Huawei phone and goes via PhoneClone. Interesting is that you can transfer most Android apps. However, it will later become apparent that not all apps can be transferred, and the apps that do this cannot be updated automatically or at all. That does not come quickly.
At the end of the installation, Huawei urgently asks you to log in with your Huawei ID or create such an account. With this account you can find the phone if you have lost it, but also store data in Huawei’s cloud environment, for example. More importantly, you need a Huawei ID to use the AppGallery app store.
After installation, the Mate 30 Pro shows a home screen with all apps. And they are all from Huawei. Google apps are missing; a strange sight for someone who has been testing Android smartphones for years. Google is also absent from the Mate 30 Pro’s settings menu.
No Google apps
For someone who has been an avid user of a lot of Google software for years, it takes a lot of getting used to. I can use Gmail via Huawei’s mail app, but the manufacturer has no solution (yet) for other Google apps. How do I access Google Photos, which contains my complete photo and video gallery? The Google Assistant? Google Maps? YouTube? The Home app, to control my home automation? These are issues that Huawei developers have undoubtedly been dealing with for months.
At the moment I can use Maps via the website, but without properly functioning navigation. Watching YouTube videos via the website works but instinctively throws me back twelve years. And since I have saved all my contacts in Google Contacts, my Mate 30 Pro shows an empty address book. First find out how I import those contacts. Another devaju to years ago. The Google Play Store is also missing. From this app store you normally install all apps and games on your device, but that kite does not work now.
Do not install apps as apk
One possible solution is to install the Google apps and the Play Store as an apk file. But don’t do that, both Google and Huawei warn on social media and their websites. Google apps are not intended to work on a smartphone without Google certification, a statement read. Moreover, with an apk file you never know what you are getting. An app, from Google or another developer, may look legitimate but contain a virus under the skin. Keep your phone safe by installing apps and games only through the AppGallery app store, says Huawei. You have to, because Netflix does not work via the website at all. Would it be in the AppGallery store?
AppGallery store is a mess
Time to dive into that app store, I mentioned it before. What is immediately noticeable is the abundance of questionable apps that have something, no matter what, to do with WhatsApp. I wonder why these apps are allowed in this app store, why Huawei highlights them as “new nice apps” and why the real WhatsApp app is not there. When I search for WhatsApp, the AppGallery recommends me a link to the WhatsApp site. From there I can install the app as apk file. But huh, that’s not the intention according to the same Huawei? Well, WhatsApp works properly. However, the app is not automatically updated, so I have to go to the website again. The same applies to Facebook. Google apps are not in the app store at all. And Netflix? No, neither.
After some browsing and searching in the AppGallery I come to the conclusion that the app store is missing almost all my apps. From 1Password and Spotify to the NS Travel Planner and the banking apps of all major banks: I have not been able to find them.
Apps cannot determine your location
Present: Aliexpress, TikTok, Todoist, Microsoft Office and especially many, many unknown apps and games. I install a few well-known apps that Huawei advertised during a recent media session, namely Buienalarm, 9292, Albert Heijn, Booking.com and Maps.me. To my surprise, none of these apps can pinpoint my location. Very inconvenient if you want to know the local weather, plan a route or find an AH store or hotel nearby. I present the problem to Huawei, which gives the following response;
“The reason that location determination within apps on an HMS (Huawei Mobile Service) phone does not work at the moment is because these apps use the GPS location determination, shared via GMS (Google Mobile Service). HMS devices may not support these services and therefore this type of information cannot be loaded into the aforementioned apps. This can be done as soon as the HMS apps are made suitable. Huawei is currently busy with several parties. ”
Long story short: the AppGallery is full of unknown apps, most of the popular apps are missing and the few useful apps you find there are not working properly yet. There is no official way to install Google apps on the Mate 30 Pro and the web versions are user-unfriendly.
The Mate 30 Pro uses the open version of Android 10 with the EMUI 10 shell from Huawei on top. Apart from the app issues and the lack of a Google certification, the software works fine. Huawei says it has access to security updates to keep the smartphone up to date. Practice must show whether this will succeed. Android 11 will be released later this year. Google will make the update available to certified manufacturers upon its release, so Huawei is not included. The company will only get access to Android 11 via the AOSP program, so it is expected that the Mate 30 Pro will receive an Android 11 update later than the competition.
The incomplete software and the resulting mediocre user experience prevent me from recommending the Huawei Mate 30 Pro and that is a pity. The Mate 30 Pro itself is an excellent smartphone.
Huawei Mate 30 Pro review as a smartphone
The glass design is luxurious and solid, the large OLED screen looks great and the large battery effortlessly lasts a long day. Also nice are the super fast charging via the USB-C connection or wireless charging station, the powerful processor and the versatile triple camera on the back. With the primary camera, you can take beautiful photos during the day and in the dark. The wide-angle lens shoots wide images and there is a telephoto lens to zoom with relatively little loss of quality. The Mate 30 Pro also impresses with its advanced and well-functioning 3D face shield, a technique you may know from the iPhone X and newer.
The Mate 30 Pro is not perfect
However, the phone is not perfect. A 3.5mm headphone jack is missing, the internal storage memory can only be expanded with a deviating NM card and Huawei is in my opinion overshot at the curvature of the screen edges. The so-called waterfall display is one of the plus points of the device, according to the manufacturer, because the screen edges extend largely over the vertical sides of the housing. And yes, that looks very cool. In practice, this design choice means that light reflects annoyingly on these edges, you can hold the smartphone less pleasantly and there are no physical volume buttons. There was no room for that. You control the volume by pressing a side twice and then swiping up or down. Even after two weeks of use, I continue to find this method less user-friendly than pressing physical buttons, which you can find and use by touch.
Conclusion: Buy Huawei Mate 30 Pro?
If you’ve read (mostly) this review, you know that I will hardly recommend the Huawei Mate 30 Pro. On the Mate 30 Pro you can not – officially – use Google apps, the Huawei AppGallery app store is still nothing and the few apps that you can use on the phone may not even work properly. Add to that a vague update policy and you have enough reasons to ignore the Mate 30 Pro. A bitter pill for Huawei, because the device itself impresses with its design and specifications and would therefore have been a (pricey) must with a Google certification. Now the Mate 30 Pro is simply only of interest to diehard Huawei fans and those who want a smartphone without Google software, and there are very few of them.
Techzle has asked Huawei if something changes for the Mate 30 Pro if the trade ban would end, for example in the area of Google certification and update policy. As soon as we have a response, we will post it here.